The Colts released recently suspended backup tight end Weslye Saunders today and signed former rugby player Daniel Adongo, listed as an outside linebacker, to take his spot on the roster.
The NFL suspended Saunders for eight games a week ago for using performance-enhancing drugs, the third Colts player this offseason to run afoul of either the law or NFL rules (Safety Joe Lefeged was arrested in Washington D.C., and WR Levon Brazill will serve a four-game suspension for using illegal recreational drugs). More after the jump...
Saunders is a big, athletic tight end with good speed and even better size for the position. He was making a name for himself at South Carolina before then coach Steve Spurrier dismissed him from the team for conduct reasons (Saunders was also under investigation from the NCAA at the time, but his dismissal was purported to be for other reasons).
Despite his character and maturity issues, Saunders’s skill set and athleticism made him worth a gamble as an undrafted free agent. He played for the Steelers in 2011 and appeared in 11 games as a reserve for the Colts in 2012. The measurables were enticing, similar to Coby Fleener in size and speed (though Fleener is obviously a better overall football player), but this may be it for Saunders in the NFL.
Meanwhile, there will be a new face at training camp, and although as far as anyone can tell, he has no prior American Football experience, he certainly looks the part. Daniel Adongo is a 6-5, 257-pound, 23-year old Kenyan rugby player with some serious athleticism. He is what basketball analysts would call a swingman, able to play both flanker and lock (Sounds impressive, even if I don’t happen to know what on earth those positions mean).
Adongo, 6-5, 257 pounds, is a 23-year-old Kenyan national who most recently played for the Southern Kings of Super 15 Rugby, the highest level of pro rugby in the world. Previously, he played in the 2012 Varsity Cup for the University of Pretoria Tuks and is currently working towards earning his degree from the school. In 2011, Adongo was signed by the Vodacom Blue Bulls, but was released from his contact after six months to join the New Zealand ITM Cup team Counties Manukau.
Adongo graduated from Strathmore High School (Nairobi, Kenya) in 2006 and attended the University of South Africa the following year. He also attended the Sharks Academy, a rugby academy accredited by South African Rugby, and made his senior debut in the 2010 Vodacom Cup. In addition, Adongo played for the Kenya Harlequins junior team before going on to play for Kenya’s U-18 and U-19 national teams.
Some links to video of Adongo. Watch for number 5 (?), and number 18 in the second video:
That’s one strong-looking fella. He looks like he can create some serious mayhem on the field. Welcome to beautiful Indianapolis, Mr. Adongo.
You can stop by and like our Facebook page, for article links, updates, and other Colts-related content.
Though their "sport" is incredibly poltically incorrect, surely there are some "dwarf tossers" out there that could help the Colts O-Line problems.
I grew up on rugby, but also have watched NFL since childhood. The biggest challenge for him (or any convert) is not so much the physicality or the fitness side. Rugby is very much non stop running and rucking for 80 minutes, there is no offense or defense team, there is no breather or bench time unless you are injured. The biggest challenge would be reading the playbook and terminologies and trying to make sense of them. What is play action? What is man or zone coverage? What is a blitz, nickle formation, man in motion etc? Carrying a pen and paper to training will be more important than what he does in the gym. When it comes to tackling or physical side of things, that is more natural, he can still hit a running back around the ribs and force a fumble. But reading the play, positioning and anticipation will be very difficult. But I do hope he goes well.
Worth pointing out: Blocking is illegal in rugby, so beating blocks will be a serious weakness. Doubt he even makes the practice squad.
I'm Australian and flankers/second rowers have to be big, fast, very athletic, strong at the point of contact and excellent tacklers. With his size, he would be perfect for outside linebacker
@DougEngland haha, yes! Maybe a dwarf tosser could contribute on special teams...somehow
@Mone_T He hasn't faced that chess match, smoke and mirrors aspect of American football yet, but I agree he has the raw athleticism and strength (holy cow, this kid is strong). If he's s smart guy, he could pick up enough to make a situational impact.
The Colts have a log jam at outside linebacker, something like 9 guys and 4, maybe 5 roster spots, with the top 3 or 4 pretty much guaranteed to make the team. They could end up cutting a few players who are still good enough to play in the NFL. If Adongo doesn't make the team, could get a second shot somewhere.
@ColtsHead_Ben Astute. The first time he faces off against a 325-pound O-lineman, who's been learning blocking technique since middle school, it'll be interesting to see what he does.
@codrutc Me too. If they keep a 5th OLB, I'm torn between him, McNary (if he ever gets to join the team), and Hickman. Hell, even Caesar Rayford is kind of intriguing for a 27year old AFL guy.
Locks are heavily Involved in the rucks and typically are the best tacklers in the forward pack. Locks are long and tall like adongo. I believe he will be strong at the point of contact and bring a lot of power coming from a rugby background so the raw talent is there.
@Tom Stewart Thanks for the insight. I'm excited about the signing, but I think it'll be tough for him to make the active roster this year for two reasons, the first being the obvious transition to a different skill set - and blocking, as @ColtsHead_Ben mentioned. Second, there may only be four OLB's (possibly five) on the regular season roster, and the top 3 are set, as well as possibly the fourth (Lawrence Sidbury). So there will be some pretty darn good players who don't make the team at that position.
Just curious, what does a lock do in rugby?
@smonroe Man, he would sign Santa Claus, a badger, and one of those guys from the Scottish Highland competition if he thought any of them stood a chance. I sure do admire the front office's all-encompassing thoroughness in their search for talent.
I can't wait to see everybody in actual games, even preseason. I am tired of speculations and talk. Heck I even look forward to reading practice reports from training camp. I don't have high expectations from either McNary or Adongo but I hope Colts give them a chance beyond this training camp, which would make sense given they were signed primarily based on their general athletic potential.
@Tom Stewart After reading more about how a ruck works, I could see him trying some power moves to break blocks. Some of the guys blocking him will be 100 pounds heavier than he is, so he'll need to use his quickness as well. Based on the videos, he has plenty of it.
@MarcusDugan Badgers don't scare me. But marsupials do. Because they're fast. And they dart.
Now as for the marsupial skills of Adongo, my first thoughts were "We can't sign him. We don't have nearly enough players with weird names this year." -See Crapfonso Thorpe-
That being said, he could be a special teams tacklin' fool.
I know two things about Rugby:
So I don't know how it will transfer over to American NFL Football.
@codrutc Same here on the speculations. I had one more training camp preview I was thinking of doing, but my heart just wasn't in it. Let's see some football.